Un-Development is Exceptional

After years of watching a skyline dotted with a dozen or more cranes, the post-crash lull allows the boom-addled to look around and adjust to the new views, or lack thereof, while the rest of us just rejoice for a moment that things have stopped changing for a minute or two.  Just a few months ago only one crane stood downtown, and one on the east side, the former an abandoned office/condo highrise which would have been, in its glory days, the fourth-tallest building in the city, and the latter part of a routine hospital expansion.  Lo and behold, though, that “failed” stimulus has caused Portland to spout another crane, to strip and erase the mind-numbingly bland facade of a dreadful 1982 Federal office building, and replace it with an equally faddish and crappy “green” curtain wall, sure to require removal in another 30 years, and probably for the same reasons. (I’ll have more on that as construction progresses, since as you can see it will be easy to do so from CHNN Headquarters.)

This story provides, happily, another opportunity to offer up CHNN’s proposed New Rule for Architects...  When you design a building, especially with government money, you must then purchase a 30-year bond that would cover its removal if it looks ridiculous or otherwise harms the community at the time the bond matures.   This would have prevented the Edith Green-Wendell Wyatt Federal building, in its current form, from ever being built, and boy, would we be saving money now. Further, such developer accountability would bring us closer to the design-life standards of the rest of the civilized world: 100 years to our 20.

It’s nice, of course, that the Federal Government can help reduce the staggering unemployment in the construction industry by tearing down a leaky, shabby, and generally horrendous building and rebuilding it, but wouldn’t it have been better if that thing weren’t so crummy and they could have built something new instead?  Why should a fricking building built when I started college have to be gutted to the structure already?  Hell, I’m 20 years older than this glorious edifice , and even with the same old facade, I look at least marginally better, and certainly no one has to set up a crane.  Yet.

(h/t mike in the previous thread who liked the “undevelopment” thing…..

7 Comments

  1. nswfm says:

    No wonder I like you and your writing.

  2. mikeinportc says:

    Hey! I’ve seen that building. :0 (It’s everywhere.)

    Laid on it’s side, it’s the (Broome) County Office Building.
    (Photo 11) http://www.consultwebs.com/ncphotos/binghamton_photos_pg4.htm

    With the windows turned 90 degrees, it’s the NY State Office Building ( the one with the PCBs, that Hugh Carey said he’d drink.)
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Government_Plaza,_Binghamton

    or, as is, a parking garage near those two .

    If you look at the architecture that cites tout, and what they show to the world ( to those that aren’t there in person, whom they are trying to entice to visit, or relocate), it’s not that . Seems as though that might be a consideration when building something new , but usually not .

    Some examples , from the nearest city ( to me) .
    http://www.rodserling.com/architecture.htm
    A lot of that is what also adorns ~ every website , government , and otherwise, that wants to give any indication of geography. None of that Nouveau Soviet stuff.

    Btw, I was thinking of “Un-Development”, Pentagon-style . ;)

    • cocktailhag says:

      That’s the problem with architects; they’re as fad-crazy as sorority girls, making their buildings age poorly and look dated. (I constantly argue with my architect friends about their anti-historicist dogma, which is handed down like a religion). Trouble is, is that no one has come up with any good new architectural style since the turn of the century bungalow, which my mother nonetheless detested because they had “no style.” (We lived in a 1928 English Tudor…) Yet they still try, failing nearly every time.
      (Maybe they could have saved money and gained valuable training by taking out the Green/Wyatt Federal building with a Predator drone…)

  3. Annice says:

    You have a crane in your view… I have 2 in mine!
    Can’t wait to see the end results…although I might be dissapointed.. I think we are in for a noisy summer!

    • cocktailhag says:

      I can see both cranes; one will block my view of the aerial tram from the bedroom and veranda…. There’ll be a third, too, right in the middle, when the Sustainability Center goes up between Grant and Gayle’s and the Athletic Center. They got a notification that the BDS was accepting comments from neighbors, the first step to getting a permit. I’m guessing six months until crane.

      • Annice says:

        That’s right…was just going to comment on the possible third one…. Things are better in three’s!